Consultant credits studies with helping to reduce hospital stays

A hospital consultant credits her studies at Teesside University with the introduction of a programme which helped to reduce hospital stays for frail patients.

Dr Catherine Monaghan works as clinical director and consultant in acute and respiratory medicine at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

She gained a postgraduate qualification while completing the clinical leaders course commissioned by the NHS North East Leadership Academy and delivered by Teesside University.

Dr Monaghan decided to return to education to gain skills and experience in clinical leadership and change management. Participants on the programme complete a project which links to their work.

She said: “I already had a strong improvement project in mind before commencing the programme, but I hadn’t fully understood that there was potentially quite a lot of essay-based work.

“However as time went on and I started doing more reading, thinking and speaking to others and started to put elements of the programme into practice, I realised that the tools we were learning worked extremely well.

“Once I started to implement these strategies with considerable success, it really increased my engagement with the programme and my perspective on it was transformed.”

Despite her initial concerns about the essay writing involved in her studies, Dr Monaghan completed the course, having decided to take the option of academic accreditation leading to a PgC in Clinical Leadership.

Her project while completing the programme was to implement an acute frailty service, to identify and assess frail patients in the emergency department, and acute medical admissions unit.

The team assess and manage patients, ensuring they get the best possible care whilst in hospital, and go home as soon as it is safe to do so, with the right level of support in the community.

Dr Monaghan said: “When I started the programme, my Trust didn’t have a frailty service and frail patients were treated in the same way as everyone else.

“We now have a fully active frailty service which has seen over 2,000 patients and has had a massive impact in reducing patients’ length of stay in hospital.”

The frailty service has delivered not only a reduction in length of hospital stay, resulting in a considerable saving of bed days, but has led to a reduction in readmissions.

Dr Monaghan would recommend Clinical Leaders programme participants to consider completing the academic accreditation, saying: “Writing is not my natural forte, but I believe part of why I gained so much was because of the concrete learning on offer through the reading and writing tasks.”

She added: “It has really changed the way I understand things. I have always felt that patient care is paramount to everything we do, but the programme has changed how I approach it.

“It is possible that I could have had the same success leading the frailty service project without the support of this programme, but I doubt it.”

Earlier this year Dr Monaghan was named as most inspiring physician in the country by The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE).

The award recognises an individual for their commitment to medicine, their ability to hold equality and diversity at the centre of their work and an outstanding ability to inspire their peers.